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The Interrogation Room: Greg Hopkins

11:42 AM EST
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Greg Hopkins was a Timber Rattler in 2011 and 2012.  He steps into The Interrogation Room this week to talk about the enjoyment of the walkoff wins and an all-star selection, the disappointment of a pair of injuries, and the elation of a Championship Season.

Q: The Rattlers had a lot of walkoff wins in 2012.  You had the first walkoff homer of the season.  It was an extra-inning homer against Dayton.  Do you remember anything special about that particular play?

Greg Hopkins: Fastball..middle in. It felt good to walk it off and it was my first home run of the season. I definitely need to work on the helmet toss though. It was an A- ball helmet toss, that's for sure. We played in Miller Park the very next series, and I remember hitting coach Dusty Rhodes telling Craig Counsell telling him that I hit a walk off and it was my first home run, and telling him that "Hop's good for the season, he got his home run." As Dusty would say.. "Come on man!" 

Q: You were selected by the other managers in the division as the starting second baseman for the Western squad at the 2012 All-Star Game in Kane County.  What did that selection mean to you?

GH: I am honored to have been named the starting 2nd basemen. I focused on working hard and trusting in the work that I had put in to getting ready for the season, and I'm thankful that it paid off. There were some good players in the league, so I'm blessed that I was given the opportunity to start in the All-Star game.  

Q: You were a Midwest League player of the week earlier in the season to get on the radar of the voters, but the game that probably sealed your selection was the game at Peoria on May 26.  That was the one where you had two homers, a double, and six RBI.  What was it about that day that let you go off like that?

GH: As a hitter, there are some games you remember, and some games you don't. That was a game where I was completely in the present moment. That's the ideal state of mind for an athlete. As for the home runs, I got some pitches to hit, and I just put good swings on them and got good results. And, I'm sure that Dusty's Pre-game flips had a huge roll in my game results! 

Q: There were seven of your Rattlers teammates on that All-Star team.  What was the whole All-Star experience like for you and the rest of the Rattlers? 

GH: It was a special experience. It felt great to have 7 of us there representing the team. Our whole T-Rats team deserved to be there. We had a good time, meeting other players from different teams, getting input about their various minor league organizations. I think it's safe to say we all were fortunate and blessed to have been there.  

Q: Your second half of the season got off to a really bad start when you were hit in the head by a pitch in a game against Peoria on June 30.  The resulting concussion sidelined you for awhile.  What were you going through as you recovered from that?

GH: Any kind of injury is tough to deal with.. Especially when baseball is all about having a routine. So this was tough. But, for whatever reason, it happened. It could have been worse, so I'm just glad that it wasn't. 

Q: You got back to playing again on July 18.  Was it different for you those first few times at the plate?

GH: Hitting is all about being comfortable in the box and having timing. And of course, it took me a little while to get both of those back. But like I said, it's part of the game, and I was confident to know that comfort and timing comes back in due time. I was excited to get going again too. It felt like another opening day (in the middle of the summer.)

Q: The team had quite a bit of turnover from the first half to the second half of the season, but the level of play stayed constant for the whole season.  What contributed to that?

GH:  Matty Erickson is a firm believer in putting in your Pre-game work, and the results will show. We had a consistent work ethic throughout the season as a whole. We rode out our win streaks and we limited our poor play. The more you can do that the better the results will be throughout a long season. 

Q: Late in the season, you got hurt again.   What was the injury and how did it happen?

GH: Partially tore my quad. The concussion didn't help my cause, because my body got tight as I was sidelined from that. But, I'm definitely healthy and ready to go.

Q: If I remember correctly, you were given the choice to go home or stay with the team for the last week of the season and the playoffs.  You decided to stick with the team.  Did you sense something special - like the championship - was going to happen and you didn't want to miss it?

GH:  I had been there all season with the team, so I definitely wanted to be there even if that meant collecting batting gloves at 1st base and telling Nick Ramirez that a change up is coming while he's at the plate... (I'm kidding, that was all him). But, yeah we were consistent all year and we were ready to start the playoffs and pursue that championship, so I wanted to be there even though it was rough not being able to play.

Q: You got to travel and coach first base during games during the playoffs.  I know it was killing you to not be able to play, but what did you think of the view from over at first base as different players came through with big hits in just about every game?

GH: The game is a lot different when you're not between the lines. I had a different perspective over at 1st base...literally and figuratively. It was great seeing guys step up and producing clutch hits. I definitely got plenty of jogging in after Macias hit 1,000 doubles.. or as he would say... "Classic double!" As for our pitching and defense, we were pretty solid throughout the year. 

Q: One of my favorite moments from last season is from before the season even started.  You were the last player to talk in your group at the Leadoff Experience.  You answered my question.  Then, you went off on a little speech and you got a little fired up talking about how the fans would see every player on the stage improve during the season.  I was pretty fired up when you got done talking and I think the fans in attendance were, too.  Where did that come from?

GH: I was just excited about the season. We had a good group of guys and I think we were all on the same page from Day 1. Pro ball is an interesting beast because naturally everyone is competing and trying to move up. But, we played well and understood that individuals play better when a team plays better. 

Q:   Back to the playoffs.  Brent Suter gets the strikeout to end Game Four and the Rattlers have won the pennant.  What was the first thing you thought as the players charged the mound in Fort Wayne?

GH: Time to charge the mound and go nuts.. Moments like that don't come around often, so it was great to jump around and congratulate all of our teammates. Teams in pro ball are constantly evolving, some guys move up, some guys move down... But we managed to have the same goal throughout the entire season. That's what I thought about after we won the Championship.

Q: What have you been doing since the season ended?

GH:  I finished school and got my degree at St. John's university, which I'm really happy about. I've been spending time with family and friends and getting ready to go for this upcoming season. Every season brings new opportunities, so I am looking forward to this fresh, new season. 

Thanks for joining us, Greg.

The Interrogation Room Files:

Rafael Neda

Chad Pierce

Chadwin Stang

Mark Williams

Brandon Macias

Nick Bucci

Reggie Keen

Jimmy Nelson

Jason Rogers

Nick Shaw

Matt Erickson

Scooter Gennett

Kyle Heckathorn

Dusty Rhodes

Jim Henderson

Chris Hook

Jeff Isom

Cory Kemp

Brock Kjeldgaard

Erik Miller

Cody Scarpetta

Bill Smith